Israel’s Parliament has failed to pass an extension to a controversial law barring Palestinians from the occupied West Bank or Gaza from being granted citizenship rights upon marrying Israelis.
After a debate that lasted through the night, the vote was tied 59 to 59. It was the first major political test for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition since it took office in June. The legislation, which critics say is discriminatory, is due to expire by tonight.
Mr Bennett set up the vote on the citizenship law as a vote of confidence in his new ideologically-diverse government, which includes left-wing, centrist, right-wing and Arab parties. He had hoped a compromise tabled yesterday would be accepted.
But in a tense, late-night session, 59 members of parliament voted in favour and 59 against, with two abstentions from the United Arab List, a party representing Israel’s Arab minority that sits in the coalition.
Right-wing opposition politicians who had formerly supported the legislation, led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, voted against the law to embarrass Mr Bennett, who leads the right-wing nationalist Yamina party.
The Citizenship and Entry Law was originally passed in 2003, when Palestinian militants were carrying out attacks inside Israel.
The authorities have renewed it every year since, citing security reasons. However, critics believe it is motivated by the desire to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel.
Thousands of Palestinians married to Israeli citizens but unable to claim citizenship rights may now be able to do so.